By Noel Dundon
Gardai in the Tipperary division have rolled out their road traffic operation for the Christmas and New Year period and are promising increased check points and far greater visibility in a bid to have no further additions to the eleven road fatalities in the county so far.
The comprehensive programme will see Gardai adopting a zero tolerance approach to breaches of road traffic regulations and there is a real determination to stamp out drink driving in particular which continues to be a big problem in the county, as in other jurisdictions.
However, as part of the programme, the Gardai have secured the use of the Road Safety Authority’s Rollover Simulator and the Interactive Shuttle in a bid to educate the general public further still on the impact of a motor vehicle collision. These invaluable educational tools will be situated in the Parnell Street Car Park in Thurles on Wednesday and Thursday next ( Dec 14th and 15th) and will be open to the general public to view and experience.
Sergeant John Brennan of the Garda Traffic division in Thurles told The Tipperary Star, “We are very lucky indeed to get these items in Thurles at this time and we are looking forward to bringing in people so that they can see exactly what happens when a vehicle is involved in a crash. We have a programme set out for schools and we have invited schools to come along and educate themselves on what can happen. Anyone over the age of 16 can use the rollover simulator and the shuttle bus which has similar interactive programmes for cyclists, motor cyclists and car drivers,” he said.
Garda Naoimh Dooley added that the simulator and interactive shuttle will be the highlight of the road safety drive and although no specific group is being targeted, there is general consensus that younger road users can derive great benefit from experiencing them.
“We would hope that members of the public will attend. Anyone can come up to the top of the car park, near the Baker Street entrance, perhaps when they are in shopping for Christmas, and see what’s going on. We have 2000 high viz vests to give out as well and loads of literature of road safety,” Garda Dooley said.
On Thursday afternoon, there will be a casualty simulation exercise in the car park involving the Gardai, fire and emergency services, and the HSE. This will be an opportunity for everyone to see exactly what happens in the immediate aftermath of a motor vehicle accident. It will be a real life experience, without having the crash, injuries or fatalities. This takes place at 2:30pm and there will also be representatives of Heartsavers and HSE paramedics who will demonstrate CPR and the use of an external defibrillator. There is also an invite to young motor enthusiasts to bring their vehicles to the Parnell Street car park between 6:00 – 8:00pm to have them examined by the Gardai so that advice can be given on different aspects of them.
So far this year, road fatalities have increased by five in the Tipperary division with eleven people having lost their lives, as opposed to a record low of six in 2010. However, the figure of eleven is still the second lowest since 1995 and the big hope is that no more lives will be lost on our roads this year, and that no more families will be plunged into grief having lost a loved one.
Gardai are reminding people of the new drink driving limits and are particularly quick to point out that driving the morning after consuming quantities of alcohol can be illegal. The body will dispose of 1 glass of beer per hour, or one glass of wine per hour. This means that six pints of beer could still render the consumer over the limit twelve hours later.
“We are seeing as many detections as ever for driving while under the influence. The figures are similar to previous years and of course we would also remind people of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs – legal, or illegal. We have greater powers now in terms of undertaking a Breathalyser test at the scene and we will use them if we feel that people are intoxicated,” Sgt Brennan said.
So do get along to the Parnell Street car park on Wednesday or Thursday next – it might just help you take action which could save your life or the life of a loved one.